Turkey’s controversial National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has compiled a list of 122K alleged ByLock users and submitted to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s office, according to a report in pro-Erdoğan Habertürk daily.
Turkish authorities under autocratic Erdoğan regime claim that ByLock is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to the report, the MİT’s list, which includes names and mobile numbers of 122 thousand people, has also been given by the prosecutor to the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime. It is also claimed in the report that around 18 million messages between the users of ByLock app. will also be submitted to relevant prosecutors.
Observers stated that following MİT’s illegal profiling of over 100 thousand people who allegedly use ByLock, a smartphone application which has always been open for usage of general public, massive arrest waves could be followed in the framework of systematic witch hunt targeting the sympathizers of the Gülen movement with the directives of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the coup “a great gift of God” and pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
About 130,000 people have been purged from state bodies, 92,000 detained and 45,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and a comedian.